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Enjoy the Scenic Missouri

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Published on: Aug. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

ropes. I also packed a first aid kit and mosquito repellent. The marine radio kept me informed of the weather, and to the presence of other river traffic. My cellular phone kept me in touch with home and would provide emergency communication, if needed.

I left L.A. Benite Park's boat ramp at Sugar Creek on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. Even though it was a cloudy, drizzly morning, my spirits were bright and optimistic. I was happy to be on the river again.

Before you start a float trip, you must prepare yourself mentally for the slow speed you will be traveling. River time dictates the pace of life for as long as you're under the river's power. Abandon thoughts of the Interstate, with its fast traffic and stressful environment. Don't think about clocks, schedules or obligations. Just relax and enjoy the ride.

As you drift along, the first thing you notice is the absence of man-made noises. Those noises are replaced with nature's sounds. I heard the current gurgling over the end of a partially submerged log and the splashing sounds of turtles as they tumbled into the water. I heard wind blowing through the tall trees along the riverbanks and high on the bluffs. Bird songs filled the air. I listened to the raspy cries of locusts, which sang as if they knew summer had passed and fall was upon them.

The first two days were cool, with a light, misty rain. Temperatures were in the low 60s. The water was warmer than the air, producing a fog that hovered above the river. It was still raining the morning of the third day, but by noon the sky was clearing.

As I floated through Bakers Bend and into Cranberry Bend, the sun began to burn through the clouds, casting long shadows across the water. The temperature rose to 75 degrees.

The day passed quickly as I enjoyed the scenery. About 5 p.m., I slid the bow of the boat onto a firm, clean sandbar at mile marker 257.5. After a light supper, I fished from the bank and caught several small channel catfish. After cleaning the fish and putting the fillets on ice, I retired to the shelter of the Gray Eagle for the night.

As I stretched out in my sleeping bag, I heard the mournful howls of coyotes back in the hills. From somewhere downriver

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